Category Archives: seej

New Seej Player Race: Barrow Lords

Bloxen, Barrow width=

“With engines hewn from the bones of giants marched the Barrow Lords, shuffling and relentless and putrid.”
–qie Zi, The Art of Seej

downloadThe recent launch of the 2013 Seej Starter set got me thinking that we haven’t updated the list of playable Seej races since the Scarab Queens back in 2012. Sure, Men have been cranking out many different bloxen since that time, but a new race? Not until today.

I’m a firm believer that Everything’s Better With Skulls, so it was only a matter of time before I scratched this particular creative itch. This model is printed in black PLA and spray-painted white to bring out the texture of the constituent bones.

I’ll be releasing the Barrow Lords’ battle flag on Wednesday, so #staytuned for a forthcoming rules update.

Which reminds me, the Scarab Queens don’t have their own flag yet. I’ll have to get on that.

In the meantime, grab the model and start printing. You’ll need at least three of these to take advantage of the new rule. You have two days.

This and other models like it are in the Seej Fortifications section of The Forge. If you print one, let me know, and I’ll put it in the gallery.

Seej Starter Set, 2013 Edition

downloadThe original Seej Starter Set gets an upgrade to take advantage of the advances made in home 3D printing over the last twelve months. Other Seej models are available for free download in The Forge.

The dawn of the hobbyist resin printer is upon us, so the set includes a one-piece flag and a fancy voronoi bloxen you can use to show off your printer’s capabilities.

The proliferation of inexpensive filament printers with smaller build platforms requires the advent of a smaller Seej engine, so I’ve added the Marshmallow Mangonel to the kit.

The classic catapult gets improvements inspired by community feedback, too. It’s all compatible with older prints, and is much, much more accurate.

Seej is an Open Source tabletop wargame designed to advance the state of 3d printing through competition and player-directed evolution. Rules for Seej are at

#staytuned, I’m releasing a new player race next week.

#stayreallytuned, I’ll be releasing a new Seej Starter Set in 2014.

Penny Ballista Fail

download Still using the demo spool of recycled ABS supplied to me by Filabot. When this print doesn’t fail it creates a Penny Ballista that’ll easily launch Abe across the Oval Office.

I left my Replicator1 unattended for a few minutes and came back to this. This fail isn’t due to any flaw in the filament– if you look closely you can see that the texture of the filament’s very even. Unfortunately, robots don’t do what we want them to do, they do what we tell them to do, and the slicing step of this print went to Wallyworld at some point.

I’ve been having this problem with some models sliced in MakerWare lately; it doesn’t seem to want to add a solid bottom layer to some prints. So I hopped back to ReplicatorG and it sliced just fine; see my previous post.

Penny Ballista with Filabot Recycled ABS

download I’m about halfway through the demo spool that Filabot shipped out to me a few weeks ago so I could test their ABS recycling program.

The spool’s given up all pretense of maintaining its orange color and has now faded completely to ABS Natural. This is intentional on Filabot’s part because they’ve sent me what they call an extruder purge– basically a spool created while cleaning a color out of the Filabot.

Earlier I speculated that the recycled ABS was more brittle than other ABSes, but I found that to be a quirk of a short stretch of the filament. I did get a little more powdering and snapped filaments than usual for a while, but a few meters into the spool the problem went away.

This type of problem is consistent with other rolls of ABS I’ve used in the past and as far as I’m concerned it’s just part of hobbyist 3D printing. All ABSes are not created equal and there’s going to be some gremlins along the way.

This ballista will easily launch a U.S. penny across the room using a single rubber band, and I’ll betcha it’ll crack your fancy triple-pane thermal windows or ding your stainless steel fridge. Be careful with this thing and don’t shoot the cat.

Flagrant stagecraft alert: There’s a twist tie holding the nock in firing position for the photo.

Filabot Recycled ABS: Penny Catapult


The spastic mob of nerfherders, scallywags, and ne’er-do-wells that follows this blog knows that I’ve been printing almost exclusively with Filabot‘s recycled ABS lately. I’ve got a pound of this stuff to get through for review purposes, so I’m cranking out fortifications and war machines day and night. It’s like the fires of Isengard over here.

I’ve always felt that the starter catapult included with the Seej Starter Set was a little anemic. The base of the throwing arm can get caught on the playing surface, and it arcs too far forward to get a good ballistic trajectory for the penny payload. This engine’s been around a while, and it’s due for an upgrade.

There are two additions to this catapult: the footings and the atlas. The footings are self-explanatory: print four of them and snap them onto the side braces to get the end of the throwing arm off your gaming table.

The atlas stops the throwing arm a little sooner than the crossbeam normally would, which gives you more range and power than a stock penny catapult.

These upgrades are backwards-compatible with existing penny catapults, so if you’ve been playing Seej at your makerspace this will only enhance your game. Remember that you probably won’t get a lot of torque with a single rubber band, so use two or three.

Flagrant stagecraft alert: I’m using a twist tie to hold the lever arm in place for the photo.

You can grab the catapult here and print it yourself. Have fun, and wear eye protection!

First Filabot Recycled ABS Print

The fine folks at Filabot were kind enough to send me a sample of their Recycled ABS filament so that I can put it through its paces. My first print is an upgraded Seej Battle Pennon with a cylindrical finial, which you can download for free at The Forge.

Pennon, Rounded

Note to other manufacturers, I’ll be happy to take a look at your product and give it a fair evaluation on this blog. email me if you’d like to get the ball rolling.

Filabot’s located behind the Tofu Curtain in idyllic Vermont. I have strong attachments to that state; I went to college there, got my first real job there, met the lovely and talented Mrs. Zheng3 there, returned there after years in Toronto and Chicago, and frankly expected to end my days chopping wood in the Green Mountain State before life’s capricious winds required a move back to the wilds of the American Midwest.

So I know and love the local culture of Vermont, and it surprises me not in the least that a Vermont entrepreneur would be among the first to start a service recycling ABS plastic for 3D printing. Filabot embodies good-ol’ Yankee frugality blended with hippy-dippy save-the-earthism and a splash of tech savvy for flavor.

Here’s Filabot’s dealio: you buy a pound of their recycled ABS and they send it to you with a prepaid shipping label in the box. When you’re done with the spool, send it back to them with as many failed prints as you can cram in there.

They complete the cycle by pureéing your fails and feeding them back into a Filabot to be made into new filament.

The box of filament arrived a few days ago, and perhaps surprisingly for a package shipped from Vermont, did not smell of patchouli. Just a 3d-printed spool of filament held together with zip ties. Nice touch on printing your own spools, Filabot. Dollars to donuts that cardboard is recycled too.

Filabot Spool 1

I’m presuming that this spool is Filabot’s Orange ABS. Note that the color gets a little inconsistent further down the spool. I don’t expect this to be a problem for me, since many of my models get a post-print spray-painting and those that don’t are utilitarian in nature.

Filabot Spool 1

I’ll be printing with this spool until it’s gone so I can really beat on this filament and see what it can and can’t do. So far, the filament is smooth and consistent in texture. No bubbles or lumps.

I suspect it’s a little more brittle than other ABSes I’ve used. I’ll give it a few dozen more meters of printing before I make that judgement call, though.

All three parts of the flag printed smoothly with no extrusion problems in my Replicator1. I went with an extrusion temperature of 250°, a little hotter than Filabot’s recommended 230°-240° range. This filament doesn’t smell any worse than traditional ABS when it’s melting, which is to say it’s not bad at all. I’ve used ABSes that are flat-out stank, so this was a pleasant surprise.

So! Stay tuned for more prints with Filabot’s recycled filament. Bloxen are next in the queue.

Using Slic3r with the Printrbot Simple and Repetier-Host

Seej Bloxen Flag, Basic

I’ll be using a basic Seej bloxen for my slicing demo. It’s more exciting than a test cube and potentially useful should a vigorous Seej match break out at your makerspace. You can never have enough bloxen sitting around. Grab the model here if you want to follow along.

Open the Object Placement tab and click on Add STL File. Navigate to the bloxen model and Slic3r drops it into your build area. The bloxen should be centered, but if it isn’t, you can fiddle with the translation and rotation values, or just hit Center Object. When you’re done it should look like this:

Added Bloxen

Click the Slicer tab (not the Slice with Slic3r button) and then click the Configure button. We have a few settings to adjust.

This is the point in the tutorial where normally I’d walk you through changing a half dozen parameters. Teach a man to fish, Lao Tzu says, and he’ll eat for a lifetime. Screw Lao Tzu. You want your fish now. You can learn to fish in an hour after your belly’s full.

So I’ve zipped up the settings that have been working for me and put them up for download. You can just swap out whatever default settings showed up with Slic3r with the contents of this archive right here.

On OSX, Slic3r stores its settings in three subdirectories within

~YourUserName/Library/Application Support/Slic3r/

You can copy the archive contents into that directory and you should be good to go.

I have no idea where these settings will be saved in Windows. If you’re on Linux, you’ve already written a shell script to slice models using spare cycles from your video card and can stop reading now.

warningWARNING: The usual warnings about destroying your printer by using the code I’ve provided apply. Use these settings at your own risk. You might think about backing up your old settings in a safe place, just in case.

Once you’ve got the settings installed, click the Slice With Slic3r button. You should have a pile of G-Code in your G-Code panel. I’ve been consistently deleting/commenting out a couple of lines from my code and have gotten good results by really babysitting the first layer of my prints.

Delete this Code

If you comment out the code by putting a semicolon in front of it, the printer won’t use it but it’ll still be there for reference porpoises:

;G28 ; home all axes
;G1 Z5 F5000 ; lift nozzle

This assumes that I’ve manually homed my printer by moving the print bed all the way to the right and the extruder arm as far forward as it will go. The hot end should be over the bottom left of the print bed.

If you’ve manually homed the printer, make sure you hit the Set Home button the the Print panel before you print.

I watch the extrusion carefully on the first layer and adjust the Z-axis manually (physically turning the leadscrew with my fancy new Z-Axis Knob) to make sure I get a good adhesion on the painters’ tape. Once I’m satisfied that the first layer is OK I’ll go wash dishes or something while the printer burbles away.
First Layer

Let’s assume everything turned out more or less OK for you and you’ve got a mostly-perfect bloxen sitting on your print bed. Now would be an appropriate time to learn to fish.

Layers and Perimeters

Layer height: I’ve been getting OK results with .35 mm. This is fairly coarse for a machine that claims .1mm resolution on the spec sheet, but for something as plain-jane as a bloxen it’s probably OK. If you get a .35mm layer bloxen to work, try a higher resolution on a more complicated model. This Magic: The Gathering Beast Token is a great detail test.


I leave this density at .25 when printing with PLA unless the object’s going to undergo physical stress. If I go much lower I find that the top layer of PLA tends to sag too much for my tastes.

Skirt and Brim

I’ve set my skirt layer height to 0 layers, which effectively turns it off. If you’re not 100% confident in the levelness of your bed, using a skirt can give you a few seconds to nudge your Z-axis before the main body of the print begins. A brim will apparently help your print stick, but I haven’t had to use one yet. Hot PLA and a level platform goes a long way towards sticking to painters’ tape.

Support Material

I try hard to design models that print without support, so I’m not a good source for information on this setting. Keep it off unless you’re printing something that needs it. I keep the raft layers set to 0 as well; no sense in printing more than we have to if things are sticking to the platform anyways.

Filament Settings

Even though your Simple ships with 1.75mm filament, somewhere in a Printrbot setup guide I recall reading that you should set this to 1.70mm. Sure, whatevs.

I’m printing with PLA at 200° for the first layer and 190° for subsequent layers. Go much hotter than 210° and the PLA that printrbot shipped with the Simple starts getting liquid. This seems to work for loading the hot end, but I wouldn’t want to try and print with liquefied PLA.

Printer Settings

I’ve set my Simple to have a 100x100mm build platform, since most of what I’m trying to print is tiny and I usually end up manually homing the printer anyway.

Planting a Flag, Redux

Seej Battle Flag, Basic

About a year ago I designed the Seej Battle Flag, Basic to be printed on my Replicator1. A user on the Printrbot forums was having trouble getting it to print, so I decided to see if I could get it to work myself. Good news! It can be printed on a Simple without any voodoo involved.

It helps if one doesn’t try to print the model all at once, so I’ve broken it into three parts and updated the entries in The Forge and on Thingiverse accordingly.

I find leveling the Simple’s bed along the Y-axis to be a little difficult, especially as the weight of the extruder arm at maximum extension pulls it down in Z. I understand there’s a fix for this, I just haven’t had the chance to apply it yet.

I’ve aligned the parts of the battle flag along the X-axis, which should make them a little bit easier to print individually.

If you’ve never heard of Seej before, check out the rules and give it a go. It’s an Open-Source tabletop wargame based around 3d printing. Have at thee!

I Can’t Print This On My Replicator

Fused deposition modeling (or fused filament fabrication, if you want to avoid a nastygram from the legal eagles at Stratasys) is the process by which Makerbot Replicators, Afinia H-Series printers, Cubify Cube 3Ds, Repraps, Rostocks, and too many homebrew printbots to enumerate turn STL files from electrons into objects.

In FDM/FFF printing, the device lays down a layer of melted plastic, moves its build platform downward a tiny bit, and then repeats the process until the model’s completely built.

I’ve had my Replicator 1 for about a year now and I think it’s safe to say that I’ve put it through its paces. I’m pretty good at 3D printing with this particular FDM printer. I understand and work around its limitations, paying close attention to the 45-degree rule. FDM printers generally can’t print too large an overhang from one layer to the next; gravity interferes and the print fails with often hilarious results.

A few months ago I designed a model that I knew had no real hope of ever printing on an FDM printer. I wanted to see what Shapeways was capable of printing for under 20 bucks, so I built a Voronoi Seej bloxen and sent it over to them. A few days later this showed up in the mail:

You’re welcome to give it a shot yourself: just download the model. I’d be interested to see your results.

A cutaway view demonstrates why the Voronoi bloxen fails on an FDM printer. Most of the model’s OK, but it violates the 45-degree rule in a big way right at the top of the block.

The print at the top of the post was my first try at printing this bloxen on my Replicator. Those tiny Voronoi cells on the bottom of the model make it really hard to keep the bloxen on the platform. If any one of those little filament loops should detach from the platform, it’ll eventually get caught on the print head and catch another loop, and another, and another, and once your model is touched by His Noodly Appendage, it’s done for. Ramen.

Those little loops need to stick fast to the HBP So it’s back to FDM Printing 101: using a raft.

After a new slice, the Replicator had no problem keeping the base of the bloxen on the build platform.

A few minutes later it looks like the Voronoi pattern is holding up well. The mortises on the bottom of the bloxen are printing just fine. I’m starting to think this print might just succeed…

…aaaaand the 45-degree rule rules its ugly head and the print starts to fail as predicted right at the top of the bloxen.

As fails go, this one isn’t spectacular. Enough filament fell into the gaps to provide a scaffold for the top layers. The bloxen is still a fairly solid print, certainly usable in a Seej match.

So. Another failed print. But there’s still hope for those of us who haven’t been able to secure $30 million in venture capital funding. I’ve been corresponding with Dean Piper, inventor of the mUVe 1 printer. Dean took up the challenge of printing the Voronoi bloxen, and his resin-based printer knocked it out of the park:

I feel like home 3D printing is in the VHS vs. Beta stage of its history. On one side we’ve got superior market penetration of FDM printers, but resin-based machines like the mUVe are going to be the bots to watch in the next few months.

Erk. Almost forgot: this post is the latest in my continuing one-man crusade to make “Voronoi” the word of the year for 2013.

The Quickstone Challenge


It’s been some time since I posted a new Seej model. I got tied up with work for couple of months and then I got on to making Magic: The Gathering Tokens, and new Seej work kind of fell by the wayside.

Plus I’ve been working on getting the Forge going, and the Scrying Pool, and I’ve been dusting off my long-unused PHP chops, and also managed to develop cubital tunnel syndrome in my left arm to match the carpal tunnel in my right.

So here’s a quickie as I dip my toes back into the moat. I’ve designed the Quickstone bloxen with paper-thin walls and internal supports to print as rapidly as possible.

Look at the red bloxen in the photo above and you’ll see the backlit mortises self-inverting to become tenons.

My best print time on a Replicator 1 with default firmware and ReplicatorG is 27 minutes.

There have got to be übernerds out there with pimped out RepRaps who can smoke that. I’m particularly interested to see how quickly someone with a b9Creator, Form1, or mUVe can do it. The internal supports on the Quickstone are built for the limitations of an FDM printer, but could probably be deleted if you didn’t have to worry so much about gravity during the printing process.

Can you knock Lao Zheng off the mountain?

First, visit The Forge and download the Quickstone bloxen. (It’s buried under Forge -> Seej Models -> Fortifications.) Then email me with the deets on your slicer, your printer, and your results. Pics or it didn’t happen.

Here are the settings I used:

Replicator1 Dual (using single head)
Infill: 0%
Layer Height: .3mm
Shells: 1
Feedrate: 75 mm/s
Travel Feedrate: 75mm/s
Print Temperature: 240°C
HBP Temp: 110°C
ABS Natural

A few rules:

  • We’re on the honor system here. No fibbing.
  • Cram as many 1:1 bloxen into your build area as you like, and measure your time in bloxen per minute.
  • Slicing time is not included in your total.
  • The bloxen must print in one piece.
  • The bloxen must be usable in a Seej match. If it can’t withstand a firm squeeze, it’s no good.
  • you can modify the bloxen’s geometry, but under the terms of the CC license you must make derivatives available to others. I can host your model in The Forge, or I’ll link to the site of your choice.

Have at thee!